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photo credit | Mark Stevenson
Last week Thursday, it began to rain lightly as I pulled out of the parking garage to drive home at the end of my workday. Because it never rains in Los Angeles this time of year, I knew it would blow over quickly. So, I kept driving. No big deal. Within minutes, it was pouring. Buckets of water. Thunder and lightening. One of the worst storms of the year. I was in my Jeep with the top down. I drove on through the deluge. I didn’t turn back or stop to put up the top. It never rains here. It will be over soon. By the time I reached home, the water in the floor of the car nearly reached the tops of my shoes. The seats were soggy. Rain was streaming down the inside of the windshield and doors. I was driving a bathtub on wheels!
During the hours it took to dry out the car, I thought about our capacity to deny the obvious facts. We tenaciously hold on to our beliefs about how the world works, despite all evidence to the contrary. Our inner roadmap determines how we interpret things, regardless of reality. As research has repeatedly shown, perception is reality. I refused to take appropriate action. Instead, I drove on…and got soaked. That’s why we often avoid dealing with unanticipated health issues, family concerns, work challenges, and security risks until forced by unavoidable consequences. During hundreds of hours of confidential conversations with humanitarian aid workers over the years, I’ve seen this repeated time and again. Bright, motivated individuals make unwise choices when the unexpected occurs. They simply can’t believe what they see.
Lesson learned? For me, put up the convertible top when it begins to rain regardless of the time of year. For you, perhaps do the same in other areas of your life and work. Regard the unlikely as possible. Learn facts and behaviors that will help you successfully navigate unusual events with serious consequences. Review our online training resources on personal resilience, trauma recovery, gender related violence, and critical incident management. Deepen your understanding of the facts and practice effective coping behaviors. You’ll increase your chances of doing the right thing at the right time. When it begins to rain, put up the top.
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